100 Day Challenge – 100 days later

In April 2022 I stated I was going to undertake a 100 Day Challenge. It’s July 2022 and those 100 days are now over. I’ve had some time to reflect. I wanted to capture my preliminary thinking, reaction, and response to the exercise. Strap in.

Where it started

Best to start with the original post: click/tap here.

tl;dr – This year I turned 50, and I wanted to do something for it because why not. Truth be told, I may be 50 but I’m the best I’ve ever been in many areas of life. I felt like celebrating that – to keep climbing. Originally I wanted to diet down, finally get really lean, and post a rockin’ pic on my birthday. Well… that didn’t happen as diet continues to be a struggle for me (more on this later). But I did decide instead to try 100 days of more discipline.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that if the bite looks too big to take, you won’t take it. It’s why in software development we take 1 13-point story and break it down into 13 1-point stories that logically support and provide a path towards the desired outcome. If you just then follow the path/plan/process, it just works and you will arrive at your desired outcome. It may not happen in your preferred timeline, and your level of satisfaction in the outcome (if it even happens) is all TBD. But what’s important to remember is:

Slow progress is still progress.
Slow progress is still progress.

Slow progress is still progress. Even if all I did today was take 1 step… I took 1 step. In 100 days, I will have taken 100 steps. Sure it took me 100 days, but I’m still 100 steps ahead of where I was.

I think it was just serendipity that when I came back to think about “what to do for my 50th?”, it happened to be just a bit more than 100 days out. We dumb apes like nice round things, including numbers like 100 (plus it adds another “place”: hundreds… ooo! ahh!). So a 100 day challenge sounds good.

The challenges

I chose 4 small areas for the challenge: read, yoga, workout, eating.

Read

Every day I had to read something meaningful, useful, towards growth (so reading Slack all day doesn’t count). It has to be something that expands me, grows me, educates me, or just… makes me smile. It could be haiku – talk about a low barrier of entry, as it takes almost no time to read that. Or I could read a page in a book. Or a chapter… well, that’s too ambitious, but for sure there’s no ceiling on how much is read.

I just want to make sure I read SOMETHING every day.

“Yoga”

This isn’t real yoga. By “yoga” I mean just moving my body through a full range every day (if there’s a better 1-word term for what I’m doing, suggestions welcome). I sit at a desk at a computer all day typing. I need to get up, stand up, stretch, bend, squat, deep breathe, etc. The gym stuff is good, but it can leave me sore and tight, which then just compounds when you sit crunched over a computer all day.

Use it or lose it is real.

Workout

Of course the gym. But also, more dry fire practice. If I’m going to get good at this red dot thing…

Eating – and being less fat

Yes, fat. I don’t want to lose weight. I don’t want to lose muscle mass/tissue. I want to lose fatty tissue from my body. It serves me no purpose: it’s summer in Texas and I don’t need the insulation.🥵 It’s just weight I carry around that contributes more wear and tear to joints and other things. Plus, I just don’t like the way I look naked in the mirror, y’know? I reckon I could stand to drop at least 40# of fat tissue to get acceptably lean.

All this work in the gym – I’ve built something, and I wish to carve off this cream cheese and see it. I’ve long wished, I’ve long tried and failed and tried and failed and tried and failed. But… try again I must. At least each time I learn something that gets me 1 step further.

Diary

Well, spreadsheet. I launched Numbers, new spreadsheet, 100 rows of dates, 4 columns one for each challenge. I had to make an entry for each day about what I did. I kept the spreadsheet open, window visible, on my personal computer’s 2nd monitor so it was always visible and present to me. What’s the opposite of “out of sight, out of mind”? “in sight, in mind”?

I gave myself grace about not being 100% successful every day. Yes, I wanted an entry for every day and THAT needs to be 100% (even if I fill in yesterday’s entry during today, vs as I go along today). But if what I put in was “Forgot to read…” or “Ate like an asshole”, thats ok. I want to record my failure days, those days when I’m less than stellar and didn’t live up to my own expectations. I mean, it happens, we’re human: we falter. What purpose is served by me suddenly “cheating” and cramming in a haiku before bed, just so I can fill in a “positive” note on the cell? What am I gaming, for whom, and why? Naw… just record what did happen, even if I’m embarrassed about it, learn, and move on. It’s cool, and as well I thought it’d be interesting to see what it looked like for reals looking back on the track record 100 days later. So, be honest.

100 Days Later…

It was good. I am glad I did it. I learned about myself, and about a few things that I believe will serve me well. The big lessons I got out of it are: to continue to embrace process focus, and that discipline done poorly is better than none.

Embracing process-focus

Even if you’re process-focused you ultimately still care about the outcome. Both process-focus and outcome-focus care about the outcome. The difference is what you are focusing on. Where is your attention? Where is your mind? Is it on that thing over there in the future (outcome-focus)? or this thing right here right now (process-focus)? The outcome matters – it’s about how you get there, about where you put your effort.

As a software developer, process is king. We talk about agile vs. waterfall, scrum, kanban, standups – all of these are processes. We apply process and promote process to our teams and clients all day every day. And that if we just do the process and do it right, it works! It just works! (to paraphrase JonTron)

If I follow 5/3/1, Westside/conjugate, Starting Strength, Texas Method, StrongLifts 5×5, Bill Starr 5×5, Mountain Dog, Renaissance Periodization, Barbell Medicine, Garage Gangsters, RPE, RIR, etc… it’s all processes. If you just do the things and you do it right, it works… you’ll get bigger and stronger.

In shooting a handgun, you have to acquire grip, hold well, align sights, press trigger without disturbing the sights, manage recoil, follow-through, repeat if necessary. Again, there’s a process. Heck, unloading a semi-automatic pistol requires a particular order: 1. remove magazine, 2. rack slide (3. verify). If you rack then remove, it may not be unloaded. Process.

Now, there’s always a process, there’s always an outcome; what do you focus your attention on? Back in 2019 when I took Gabe White’s Pistol Shooting Solutions class, a huge lightbulb came on regarding the effectiveness of process-focus. Of being in the moment of this shot now. That shot, it’s in the past. That other shot? it’s in the future. But this shot? Be here: grip, sights, trigger, viola. And the results of that weekend were beyond my expectations. Then there’s my performance a month later at the Rangemaster Master Instructor class in November 2019. High? Revolver day, perfect score on qual tied with Weems and Labonte (Labonte won the shootoff). Low? Completely fucking the Casino Drill (Tom ran the timer) in front of Tom and a poor showing on the qual (passed, but 91%). I was so outcome-focused that weekend – “Daub, don’t fuck this up.” – and so what did I nearly do?

And so here in the 100 days, I get to a new level of process-focus understanding.

Workout

This is pretty simple: just keep lifting. I’ve been lifting since I was a teenager, most seriously from 2011 to today; after 11 years, I think it’s habit and “part of me”. I have to continue to adjust what and how I lift to manage fatigue, wear-and-tear, progress, and quite simply – enjoyment. I gotta enjoy the lifting. I like lifting heavy, but I have to take an even longer road to get there now. But I think it’ll be good – because of something I heard Dave Hoff said about “owning the weight” regarding progression. Yeah… I need more of that.

A number of people have expressed concern over my lifting. I appreciate that I have so many people in my life that care about my well-being. Know that my long-term motivation around lifting is: to not be decrepit. There’s far more to my lifting and workouts than I show on Instagram, and everything is ultimately guided by my lifetime desire to not be decrepit. I want to be like Sonny:

Dry fire… I have been doing more of it. I trailed off a bit towards the end because of other life things, but I’m coming back to it. I don’t get too bent out of shape over those things, because often I find stepping away from something for a moment to let things simmer, I find when I come back to it the notion I was working on will be more refined. It’s all good. But that said, I do need to pick up my game.

Eating / Defatting

This remains a struggle for me. However I did have one solid outcome from the 100 days.

I was able to get a more refined look at how “eating outside my windows” costs me, and THAT is the thing I need to give attention to before anything else. And once I get that managed, then I can truly let it rip.

See, I might leave my office around 6 PM. Supper’s in the works but not yet ready. Glorious smells and “taste this” stimulate the appetite. I snack on something. I keep snacking. I’m probably 500 cals in, and then supper consumed on top of that. And that doesn’t do me good.

If I keep to my time windows (pre, breakfast, lunch, shake, supper) and eat ONLY then, that’s what I need to do. Then it’s just “do the math” and “prep according to the math for a week of meals” and do it to the right cal total and macros and boom… just do the thing and do it right and don’t eat like an asshole outside of windows, and it will just work.

Here’s the twist! I monitor my bodyweight. I see how what I consume affects that aspect, as well as how I look in the mirror (e.g. size/swell of my gut). If eating between windows is helping me maintain, those extra 500 cals (or whatever) are necessary – which means when I DO eat within my windows, those window meals MUST account for that 500 cals somehow so I can still maintain! So I have to eat at particular times AND I have to eat more when it’s time to eat… and I gotta tell you, sometimes all the eating is a chore (look up Blaine Sumner chicken shakes).

So that’s the trick for me now: windows. Mrs. Hsoi has been wonderful in helping with meal preps. That I get to eat her cooking AND do the meal stuff is… wonderful. ❤️

I’ll get there. I do see finally #BecomingLean being within reach.

Discipline done poorly is better than none

If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.

“Worth doing poorly? Why would you want to do something shitily?” That saying just irked my sensibilities. But then I came to understand it. It’s more like: if it’s worth doing, it’s ok to do it poorly. Like one of those it doesn’t matter if you can’t dance, dance anyways sort of things, dig?

It’s that something is better than nothing. Now of course it’s not just any something, it still has to be something correct and directed towards desired outcomes. But done poorly is still done. And so, something is better than nothing. It’s not about going from 100 down to 10, rather it’s about being at 0 and going up to 10.

What’s magical is that even if say all you can give is a 3, if you keep giving that 3 every day, those 3’s add up. And then maybe one day, you’ll do 4. I recall one night wanting to go straight to bed. That means I skip brushing my teeth, but I tell myself to just go dry brush each surface once and be done. I do. Next thing I know, I’ve brushed every surface a few times, wondering why I didn’t just put paste on the thing… it’s not like it would have taken much more effort. And so next time, I do that. 3 becomes 4.

Reading

I managed to read 3 (almost) books.

I am most happy about this. I love books… I have 3 large bookcases in my office stacked with books. I love going to the bookstore and coming home with neat finds. But, I don’t always get to read the books… I want to, I intend to, but time isn’t always there. However, I know it’s not that the time isn’t there; it’s more about how I am spending the time I have. Like I don’t need to scroll social media, I can read a book.

YANSS was a great start, because it’s a lot of little chapters. It’s an easy read, and once you get started it’s only a few pages to finish a chapter. So you make faster progress than 1 page per day. It’s a fun and enlightening book too.

The other two books were just things for fun. I didn’t want to have to read something serious, but they were both enriching. Andrew really hates hair metal. 🤘 And Aaron knows meat. I’ve been putting some of his teachings into practice to good outcome.

If there’s anything I’m really most proud of from this 100 days it’s this – that I’m getting books read. It may have been only 3, but that’s more than before. It feels really good, and I want to keep it up. I’m already into my next book.

“Yoga”

I’m standing more. I need to stand moreer.

I also realized something… when I take a break at work, I kick my feet up in my chair and scroll media to kinda tune out my brain searching for a dopamine hit. Why am I not instead starting by doing some stretches and even getting on the floor and stretching and moving stuff. Do that just 5 minutes… then you can scroll or whatever.

Will start doing that.

I’ve been watching my squat, especially as I get into the hole and what happens with my upper back and hips. In part, it’s due to “being tight” because I get to a certain point and the tightness wins, tho I can continue to be mobile by bending, which isn’t quite optimal. So doing things like Asian squat-sits on the reg should help me open things up a bit, including my hip adductors. This’ll just be good for me all around.

I also think, with increased intention around my yoga times, I do some of the knee PT stuff and stretches. That will not only be good for the knees, but my entire lower body.

100 more days?

I did notice that within a few days of finishing the 100, I trailed off in keeping the diary. That’s ok as that’s not really needed long term (I think…). But I have been working to keep up with all the things. I do need to work on reframing my work breaks at least partially into “yoga” sessions. Heck, after I stretch I could do 5 minutes of dry fire practice. 🤔

I did think about trying to extend it out another 100 days, but I didn’t see much of the point. I got what I needed from the rigidity of this exercise, and what I really need is to just maintain the momentum towards it becoming just a part of me, just a normal everyday way of being. To maintain the structure of the 100 day challenge would feel artificial. But could it just feel that way because it’s novel and not yet a habit? Maybe. I’ll see. I have a Reminder repeating on a monthly basis to at least reflect on my performance in these areas.

Try it yourself

Seriously. Try it yourself.

Meso changes

So I’m feeling rather beat up, especially in my knees and shoulders. I think the shift in lifting style here in meso 3 – more focus on singles towards hitting some numbers again – is in part to blame. I really want to do things like set new lifetime PRs in press (225), deadlift (515), bench press (325), squat (SSB 405). I know what got me there, but a repeat isn’t going to get me there again. I’m older, more beat up, more worn out. But still kickin!

It’s things like posture at work, sitting at the computer… posture is a thing. Plus I have to be mindful side-sleeping, because if I truly sleep on my side, that’s a LOT of bodyweight on that shoulder joint and I can hurt my shoulder if I’m not mindful about side sleeping. And let’s be frank: I’m 50… things are wearing out.

I think I want to play seriously with my squat for once. I’m going to stop deadlifting and instead squat again as a second “technique” day. I want to use it as a time to really focus on squat technique, plus see if I can sink a bit more into the hole and get to stretching those muscles so I can improve that hip mobility to better hit depth. I think that will also take some tension off my lumbar area. All good long-term matters within my mission to not be decrepit.

So like a heavy day working up to a heavy triple on squats (then 1 backoff of 5-8), then a light day of like 5×5 or 5×3 on pause squats with a heavy technique focus – very very light weight, enough for a response, but not much more.

As for my deadlift? if my squat goes up, my deadlift should too. Not worried about it.

Similar for bench. Work up to a heavy triple, then backoffs for 5-8. Simplify the upper-push day a bit. Then on upper-pull day, just do like DB incline benches and call it good for “push” on that day; also open with BB rows (heavy) and close with the DB benches – I have never benched last before. It’ll be novel to try. 🙂

I’ve been paying attention to Paul Carter’s stuff about “effective reps”. I’m slowly finding weights that fit this 3×5-8 (to failure) model. Trying to find how little I can do in terms of volume, but max in intensity and growth, y’know? It’s interesting.

I do like the upper/lower A/B split spread 3x week (9-10 day micro). I will keep most of the same movements: BB rows, Dante rows, seated leg curls, calf raises, seated calf raises, etc. I’ll make minor changes, like making DB curls primary biceps exercise (vs. EZ bar curls of the past 3 mesos) with Cable EZ curls as the second (vs DB curls).

I want to keep working to build strength, but I do need to take a different approach to get there. I really gotta think more in terms of things like building my 3RM vs 1RM.

It’s Cold Drill Time Again comes to YouTube

My video series – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – is now available on YouTube.

I learned the value of cold drills from Rangemaster’s Tom Givens: when the flag flies, you’ll be cold – what can you do then? Understanding one’s cold performance has merit towards knowing and application of your real-world skill.

It’s Cold Drill Time Again aims to demonstrate the value of cold drills, and provide ideas on cold drills one can do. 

Season 1 is about starting. It’s about me building the habit to shoot cold drills – and video and post them – as a regular thing. It is as much about the performance work as it is the video production: going from Instagram stories with no idea what I was doing to do, no preproduction, to IGTV with some idea of a script and a smidge of editing. It was a good place to start, and while I love Instagram, YouTube is the place to be. I am bringing Season 1 of It’s Cold Drill Time Again to YouTube.

To celebrate the YouTube debut, here are the first 5 episodes of It’s Cold Drill Time Again (which I guess I now refer to as Season 1).

I gotta start somewhere… – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E1
Three Seconds or Less – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E2
TacCon21 Tie Breaker – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E3
The Wizard and the P365 – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E4
Taking a Ruger LCP II through 5^5 – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E5

The Name

Yes, I’m a fan of the hottest band in the world, KISS!

One day at the range as I was motivating myself to shoot a cold drill I said in my head… “Welp… it’s cold drill time… again.” Instantly the song “Cold Gin” by KISS popped into my head.

It’s cold gin time again

You know it’ll always win!

Cold gin time again

You know it’s the only thing that keeps us together.

Hear in your head, Gene Simmons growling that out.

And so #ItsColdDrillTimeAgain became a thing.

#YouKnowItsTheOnlyThingThatHelpsMeShootBetter

(not really, but just roll with it for the gag)

Where’s the fucking dot?

Yesterday was a Defensive Pistol Skills 2 day at KR Training. I was assisting Karl with class. After class, a few students reshot the Three Seconds or Less test, and I joined them on the line.

I shot with the Sig P365XL Holosun from my Enigma/JMCK. I finally picked up a Sport Belt (where have you been all my life you sweet thing!). I also chose to rotate my carry ammo, so throughout the day I shot up my Gold Dot 124 grain +P.

First thing I noticed was I was going back into the holster by the time students were just breaking their first shot. Getting out of the holster quickly has merit.

Second, I way failed the test.

Where was the fucking dot?

That’s all that kept going through my head.

Where’s the fucking dot?

I tried playing with some things like slide/window indexing. But still… where’s the fucking dot?

During class, I was running the shoothouse. Afterwards I cranked off some 25+ yard rounds to the 3-D reactive targets – behold the power of the dot.

If you can fucking find it. 🤪

I’ve not been dry practicing for a couple weeks. I’ve been massively burned out due to sleep issues. If I can’t increase my reserves I have to cut expenditures. It’s why I took the last week off from the gym, and why I’m readjusting my gym work with regards to fatigue management. In fact, I’m writing this on a late Sunday afternoon, where I’ve napped most of the day and am starting to regain myself. I rewatched this from Rob Leatham:

and I’m feeling a rise within to want to get back to work.

That’s a good sign.

Oh another thing. It’s ok to suck in public. A couple students stayed after and spectated the shooting. I – the instructor – failed and sucked in front of students/clients. On the one hand, I get the ego involvement and protection. On the other, as Jake the Dog said:

Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.

Jake the Dog, from the TV show “Adventure Time”

Rangemaster Practical Tactical 2022-06

On June 1, 2022 I was a student in the Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course presented by Tom Givens, hosted by Karl Rehn at the KR Training facility. I took this class not only because I appreciate a refresh on Tom’s doctrine, but it’s also part of my journey of the red dot pistol.

I was planning to make a video to post to my YouTube Series on Exploring the Red Dot Pistol, but the day job’s been stressful and I just wanted to be a student (no pressures of producing a video). So, you get a blog post. 😄

Practical Tactical

The Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course is 8 hours of intensive training in defensive marksmanship, proper gun-handling, and personal tactics. The class started in the classroom with Tom speaking on the importance of mindset. Tom dove into the 1986 FBI Miami shootout and the lessons it holds. Home security matters were addressed (tl;dr “lock your damn doors”). Staying safe in public. Who is around me? What are they doing? Active shooter realities. This classroom portion is the money of the class (or really, any class with Tom Givens) – the mechanical skill of shooting is, relatively, easy. But to have what? 5+ decades of direct knowledge, professionalism, and experience laying it down for you? People… that’s where it’s at.

I get the feeling the design of the class is half-classroom half-range. I say “feeling” because we experienced sudden, unpredicted downpours throughout the day and were confined to the classroom for a fair portion of the day. Tom of course being a wellspring of knowledge there was no shortage of things for him to teach, and so he did. Eventually the rain stopped and we went out. It’s a pleasure watching Tom run a range – I got reminded of a few places I need to tighten up.

Range work was strong on fundamentals. Note: Tom had the following prerequisite for the class:

Registration is strictly limited to students who have had any prior Rangemaster handgun course, such as Combative Pistol, Intensive Pistol, or Instructor Development. This assures that everyone is on the same page on Safety and Basic Marksmanship procedures, so we don’t have to use time in this class to cover those topics. This assures everyone of a better learning experience in this course.

(I think a KRT DPS1 grad would be minimal for this course)

In range work, Tom went over the 4-count drawstroke, refining technique. We did a lot of drawstroke, dry work, present from low ready, DTFAH, multiple hits, Parrot Drill. Good stuff. Very fundamentals, very much ensuring people have (minimum) competency.

For me, the range work wasn’t anything I couldn’t already do… but I had the dot. More on that in a moment.

I’ve taken around 150 hours of training from Tom – I’m familiar with what he teaches. I think this “Practical/Tactical” class makes a fantastic entry into the world of “The Gospel of Givens”. It is solid and well-considerate of topics for a 1-day class offering – it is rich in appropriate and relevant skills and information. I am happy people were introduced to Quickly, Carefully, Precisely. And again, the real money is the classroom material. Folks… THIS IS THE SHIT YOU NEED. And I’ll be real for a moment: I dunno how much longer Tom’s gonna keep doing this, so get your ass into one of his classes.

If you are more on the experienced side, this is still a valuable class. You can ALWAYS stand to hear the classroom stuff again – plus the way Tom tells it, well… you can tell he’s an articulate motherfucker who knows his shit. And the range time is excellent work on fundamentals – you will learn something new, that will help you along.

People go to classes because they want fun: a class has to be fun. It is a bit of an escape for most of us (e.g. I came home refreshed, actually! a day outside away from the computer…). Practical Tactical provides fun – you’ll get “pew-pew time”. But this is one of those classes where your satisfaction comes later, after class, when you realize how richer you’ve become for the experience.

Bottom line: a solid 1-day offering beneficial to those who wish to become richer in their knowledge of defensive handgun

Red Dot

I shot my Sig P365XL, curved trigger, Wilson Combat grip module, Holosun 507K (circle-dot), PHLster Enigma & JMCK Enigma Shell (recently adjusted).

My biggest problem was eye focus: I’m heavily myelinated on front-sight focus, so I wound up doing dot-sight focus. I’m also learning how to acquire (hunt for) the dot. I’ve been mostly working on the press-out, which implies ready positions like “high-compressed ready” (which is what is done at KRT). Tom works from the low ready – I haven’t worked that with the dot. The “on press-out” techniques to help you find/acquire the dot like starting slightly muzzle-up waving/dropping the muzzle as you get to extension to allow the dot to “drop in” – you can’t do that from low ready. So how the F do you manage low ready? What’s the trick there? Seriously, I’m asking – comment below.

I just have to continue to (un)learn it. I think I need more live-fire at this point, because recoil, sun, etc. It’s just going to take work – I need to get my eyes/brain seeing what needs to be seen here. I was thankful Doug Greig was AI’ing, as he was a solid resource for dot-specific tips.

To that… remember. The old man is 70, still uses irons, and outshoots all of us. Take that to the bank.

I was better in my grip… almost too good:

Blood blister, I reckon from a bottom-corner on the mag well. I’ll be taking some sandpaper to round off edges. I like the WC module, but it’s a trade-off for the part vs. something like a Boresight module. I have an off-the-shelf BS module, but I think to work in my hands I need a custom job, which is time and money so… yeah.

After adjusting the Enigma/JMCK setup, it’s working better. I need to get a sport belt…

It was an informative time. Things I see I could stand to do:

  • Do more dry work “at speed”
    • Think about that DTFAH skill.
  • Drive the gun, especially during dry work.
    • Small gun issues…
  • Continue to work on eye focus
  • Live work – use Gabe’s 4 technical skills, perhaps.

It was good to see Tom. I’m privileged to know and learn from him.

Tom Givens & John Daub (me)

Exploring the Red Dot – Minimum Competency

Minimum Competency

In this May 14, 2022 live fire session I continue my exploration of the red dot pistol by shooting my Minimum Competency Assessment.

A month ago I went to the A-Zone Range and shot a number of drills to determine my baseline of performance with a red dot pistol. That session provided me with good feedback on what I needed to work on: primarily, dot acquisition. So I spent the past month in dry fire primarily focused upon dot acquisition.

As you can see in the video, my ability to pick up the dot did improve – but no question I still have a long way to go. A few high points for my focus:

  • Focus on the Draw To First Acceptable Hit(s) skill
    • Start from the holster and work on that draw to first acceptable hit.
    • This works:
      • Dot acquisition
      • Grip acquisition (primarily dialing in new gear, or going back to old gear and adjusting more)
  • Make sure I’m being target focused (establishing that as a new habit, instead of well-habituated front-sight focus).
  • Pinky-driven grip
    • Make sure that pinky is engaged, especially on this P365XL

My 10 yard and 3 yard shooting were fairly similar. I’m working to find the dot every time because that’s my current skill focus. What I need to do next is learn what it looks like with the RDS to “see what I need to see”. Because I’m new to this, every bit of shooting is me trying to find the dot and shoot with that “perfect sight picture” – because that’s my skill focus. But of course, what sight picture I need at 3 yards vs. what I need at 25 yards are different things. This is something I’ll need to set aside a live fire session for, especially at 7 yards.

One other thing that I’m not sure what to do with. I realized the act of producing the video is a novel stress. I’m thinking about the shot, staying in frame, am I generating a cohesive narrative, word choice, minimizing ums and ahs, ensuring I look at the iPhone’s camera not screen, etc. Lots of little things while I’m trying to just shoot. I wonder how much the novel stress impacts my performance – not as an excuse, but literally as a measure and assessment of my performance. We want automaticity in performance so that we can have the brain cycles available to focus on the novel stress of the event so…

Anyways, a good session. Told me a lot. Work ahead.

Don’t be decrepit

That is my “vision statement”: I don’t want to be decrepit.

Why do I go to the gym? Sure being bigger and stronger is cool, but it’s because I don’t want to be decrepit.

I made noises getting up and down from the ground to cuddle and play with my then-infant son – I was in my mid-20s? Not right. I was a smoker and got winded walking 2 flights of stairs to the office. Not right. I saw people, middle-aged-and-up, struggling to negotiate a “flight” of 3 steps. Not right.

I made up my mind: I don’t want to be(come) decrepit.

I don’t know when I will die, and I have so little control over it. I’m not rushing headlong into death, but I’m not out to avoid the unavoidable either. What I am doing is enabling myself to live this life while I have it. I don’t need to be wicked strong, but I need to be strong. I don’t need to have wicked endurance, but I need endurance. Being leaner is better. I need to be able to move and used my body in its entirety – picking up something that fell on the floor shouldn’t be an ordeal.

And yes, sometimes my definition of living life includes doing some stupid things and getting hurt (e.g. my pec strains), and understanding that while lifting is generally good for me it does wear on me too – but I enjoy it and I’m ok with the trade-off. And yes I know that despite my best efforts, I will still age, I will still fail, I will still fall apart, and I may become decrepit.

Yet… someday, I want to be like Sonny:

“Be a Bridge”

This. This right here. Thank you, Dr. Yamane for posting that.

Gun Curious

Graduation ceremonies always lift my spirits, so after a tough weekend confronting the reality of white supremacist hate in America, I was glad to be able to set that aside and recognize the achievements of over 1,000 Wake Forest University undergraduates (including my youngest son) who completed their final two years of college under extraordinary circumstances.

As I told my own students on the final day of class this semester, I hope that the challenges they face make them stronger, more resilient, more creative, and more compassionate people.

Wake Forest 2022 Commencement. Photo by David Yamane

The commencement speaker this year was Van Jones, who is best known as a CNN political commentator. His address hit all the right notes for me. Here I want to highlight just a couple, but you can watch the entire address on YouTube or read it at the Wake Forest University commencement site.

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After 2 microcycles…

If you enjoy reading about my lifting weights, read on.

I’ve completed 2 microcycles (3 micros in a meso-block) of my “move away from 5/3/1”. I wanted to capture my current state of things.

Summing up the microcycle

  • 3 days a week, 4 sessions per micro (micro thus is 9-10 days long; gym 3x/week is a good balance between stimulus and recovery for me).
  • Fundamentally upper/lower A/B split
    • Squat (lower A)
    • Bench (upper A)
    • Deadlift (lower B)
    • Press (upper B)
  • Each session starts with a main lift: squat, bench press, deadlift, press.
    • This will be worked for strength. Work up to a crisp single.
    • Might do 1 backoff set for AMRAP; maybe.
  • Shifting supplemental and accessory work to more bodybuilding style, with increasing intensity per micro, and changing up every meso-block.
  • Some accessory upper worked on lower day: accumulate volume over the micro (vs. within the session); helps manage time-in-gym-vs-i-gotta-get-to-work-but-want-to-ensure-I-give-some-bodyparts-the-attention-they-need-over-the-micro. 🙂
  • I adopted a few conventions
    • Be conservative. I have goals, and I can’t meet them if I’m injured. Slow progress is still progress.
    • For a lot of accessory (and some supplemental) work, do 3 sets driving each set to failure. Over the “3 weeks” (3 micros of the meso), it’ll be like this (do you even conjugate, bro?):
      • Week 1: start dialing in weight and reps, each set to failure. Won’t be a killer 3 sets but it’ll be novel stimulus.
      • Week 2: weight and reps should be fairly dialed in, so just hit it again the same as week 1, just kinda “straight set pushing it” aiming to get a few more reps/work than week 1, still to failure.
      • Week 3: weight and reps are dialed in. Hit it hard for 3 sets all to failure, then finish with some sort of intensity technique: drop sets, iso-holds, rest-pause, partials, etc. Whatever is appropriate for the movement, e.g. selectorized machines easily support drop sets, John Meadows loved iso-holds and partials at the end of lying leg curls).
    • If I work a body part additionally on “a different day”, try to find some alternative approach. For example, if on same day you went heavy weight low reps, different day might be medium-weight moderate reps or light weight higher reps. A little variety just for interest.

So it has looked something like this:

  • Lower A
    • Squat. 5-4-3-2-1 rep workup to a crisp single. Backoff: 1×60%
    • Leg press. 1 warm-up, then 3×20. On 3rd micro, finish with -30% drop set
    • (I’d add Leg extensions if I needed it, but so far this has been a lot of quad stimulus).
    • Calves on (selectorized) leg press. 3×8-12, pyramiding up. 3rd mirco, finish with drop set.
    • Rope-handle cable hammer curls. 350 Method. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
    • Benched barbell wrist extensions. 3×20
    • Treadmill
  • Upper A
    • Bench press. I started this “move away” on 5/3/1 3s week so: micro 1, 3s week; micro 2, 1s week + 1 Joker rep; micro 3, 54321 workup plus a Joker single.
    • Incline DB flies. Slight incline a la John Meadows. 3×15, 3rd micro finish with 2 rest-pause sets. Get that stretch.
    • Seated DB Press. 4×6-10. 3rd micro finish with drop set
    • Incline DB Y raise. 3×10-15, 3rd micro finish with partial swings
    • PJR Pullovers. 3×12-15, 3rd micro finish with 2 rest-pause sets
    • Cable Row. 4×8-15, pyramiding up in weight. 3rd micro finish with 2 drop sets
    • Treadmill
  • Lower B
    • Deadlift. 54321 workup.
    • SLDL. 3×6-10.
    • Seated leg curl. 4×8-10. 3rd micro finish with drop set
    • Seated calf raises. 350 method. 3rd micro finish with partials/bounce
    • EZ-Bar pushdowns. 3×8-15. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
    • Benched barbell wrist extensions. 3×20
    • Treadmill
  • Upper B
    • Press. Executed same as bench.
    • Dips. 3×5+. Easing my shoulder/body back into these, so start with 3×5 and 1+ each week.
    • Barbell row. 4×5-8, pyramid up in weight. 3rd micro finish with 135xAMRAP
    • Dante row. 3×8-15 pyramid up in weight. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
    • Face pulls. 3×12-15. 3rd micro finish with drop set
    • Wide grip EZ bar curls. 4×6-8, 3rd micro finish with partials
    • Spider curls. 3×12-25 – just rep the fuck out. 3rd micro finish with iso-hold
    • Treadmill

Results so far

Again, I just finished micro 2.

Gut response: I like it. I’m getting strength work in, and the hypertrophy work is really cranking the shit out of my muscles – I am SORE! I am glad to see hypertrophy happening, because I’m aiming to use this programming to support my cut.

Another big thing for me here is the meso supplemental/accessory progression and rotation. Where week over week it ups the intensity, then next meso you switch to a similar movement. Oh the DOMS! Good pumps have been had too. I think this approach will support where I want to go. We shall see.

Where I want to go

I need to focus on dropping my body fat once and for all. I reckon I could drop 40# of flab and be happy. I really love strength training, and I need to find a way to keep that around during the cut, minimizing (or at least tracking) its state and progress or loss. I need to retain as much muscle as possible, and the best way to do that is to work to build muscle. I need to have a gym program that will support this dietary and lifestyle shift I need to undertake.

I will move the strength work to being a more “54321 workup” sort of thing, maybe with 1 backoff for some reps. I want the 1 to be crisp (I love Paul Carter for that term; it’s razor accurate). If it’s not crisp, I stay there micro over micro until it is. Which direction things move (even if it takes a few weeks) will be informative. I would adore progression, even if slow. So I will attempt a fairly slow progression. Like week over week just increase by maybe 5#. Then step back and do it again. To illustrate, let’s take squat:

  • Week/micro 1: squat 325
  • Week 2: squat 330
  • Week 3: 335
  • Week 4/meso 2: 330 (hopefully crisper than week 2)
  • Week 5: 335 (hopefully crisper than week 3)
  • Week 6: 340 (cool)
  • Week 7/meso 3: 335, etc.

Again, illustration. Subsequent weeks depend how preceding weeks go. But generally some sort of periodized undulation.

Point tho is strength work is just kinda this sort of thing. As well, I have thought about adopting an RPE-based and/or kinda sorta that Simmons/Tate “max effort” shit; that sort of approach got me to my strongest ever. 🤔 And there’s a part of me that wants to squat 405 again…

Accessory work is hypertrophy oriented. I’m working to ensure stimulus is constantly novel. Can you get it done in 3 sets? You betcha, if you push that shit hard. First week you basically know what you can do, so crank that. Because of novelty, it’ll be good stimulus. Week 2, you have the weight and reps more dialed in, so simply due to that you’ll be able to push a little harder with an appropriate weight. That will be sufficient stimulus. But if you keep just “doing straight sets”, you adapt. So to prevent that, week 3 you again can push a little harder, and then we finish with some sort of intensity technique. Week 1 is novel, week 2 is adapting, week 3 pushes beyond. Always pushing towards failure, increasing intensity each micro. THEN, in the next micro you switch to a new movement and start over again. So maybe you did barbell curls, now you do ez-bar curls; wide then narrow, narrow then wide, cable curls, whatever… just pick a variation (conjugate bro). Lather, rinse, repeat over the mesos.

Plus, the fact I change up every 3 weeks means I never really know how much strength I’m losing. LOL. Yes, I’ll probably stop doing SBDP eventually and replace with similar movements (e.g. return to front squat). But, if my strength stalls, that tells me something regarding my diet/loss progress too. So, it’s all good, telling, diagnostic. I may be able to do things like when I see the stall, have diet go maintenance, achieve new set point (perhaps strength increases slightly like my reps start to go back up 1 per micro), then start a new cut. It may be cycles like this… 🤔

I have seen some decent musculature appearing in just 2 weeks – it’s not huge, but there’s a difference. This bodes well for supporting weight/fat loss.

And that’s… what is next.

Updated: “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” – including the Minimum Competency Assessment

An update to my eBook “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” – including the Minimum Competency Assessment – is available for download!

In 2013 I published my original work on Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol. At TacCon22 I lead a discussion on the topic of Minimum Competency. There I presented my original work along with my recent thinking on the topic. I introduced a Minimum Competency Assessment as an attempt to quantify my evolving thinking. For example, while “multiple hits” remains in the definition, I now believe the draw-to-first-acceptable-hit (DTFAH) skill needs to be emphasized. In this update to DQS&T, I present the Assessment and my thinking behind every bit of it: target selection, par times, distances, equipment, biases, uncertainties, etc. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts here – I don’t have the answer, but I am exploring towards one.

This update contains over 100 pages of content and drills, adding the 3456 Drill, Snub Assessment, Hip to be Square, and The Common Tater Drill. Old favorites like the 2019 FBI Qual, Three Seconds or Less, and a plethora of Rangemaster stuff are included as well. 

Copies of the eBook are available for FREE download at the KRTraining.com website.

I hope this may be useful to you in your journey.

Be strong. 🤘